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Western Tanager

From Opus

Adult malePhoto © by Joseph V. HigbeeSpanaway, Washington, USA, 5 May 2005
Adult male
Photo © by Joseph V. Higbee
Spanaway, Washington, USA, 5 May 2005
Piranga ludoviciana


[edit] Identification

17 cm (6.½ in)
Both sexes have a pointed, but fairly stout, pale bill
Breeding Male

  • Bright red face
  • Yellow neck, underparts, shoulder and rump
  • Black back, wings, tail
  • White lower wing bar, white to yellow upper wing bar
Nonbreeding plumagePhoto © by ducbuclnKelseyville, California, 30 October 2012
Nonbreeding plumage
Photo © by ducbucln
Kelseyville, California, 30 October 2012

Adult Female:

  • Yellow head and underparts
  • Olive-grey back
  • Grey wings with white lower and white or yellowish upper wing bar
  • Underparts color variable yellow to whitish

Non-breeding and Immature: Similar to adult female

[edit] Distribution

Breeds from Alaska southward to just north of Mexico and eastward to Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico; winters in Central America (western Panama).

Rare vagrant to the east coast of North America north to the maritime provinces of Canada.

[edit] Taxonomy

This species is monotypic.[1]

[edit] Habitat

ImmaturePhoto © by MarkVanWykVernon, British Columbia, 24 August 2012
Photo © by MarkVanWyk
Vernon, British Columbia, 24 August 2012

Open coniferous forests of douglas fir, spruce, and pine, mixed woodlands with aspen trees, oak-pinyon woodlands of higher mountains. Also found in lowlands during migration.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists almost entirely of insects (mostly wasps) and ants, with the addition of fruit, and some buds.

[edit] Vocalisation

Song is similar to American Robin in its short, fluty phrases rendered with a pause between phrases.
Call is A dry pit-r-ic

[edit] References

FemalePhoto © by DJ ODonnellRocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 8 August 2019
Photo © by DJ ODonnell
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 8 August 2019
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from
  2. Hilty, S. (2018). Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 October 2018).
  3. Hudon, J. (1990). Unusual carotenoid use by the Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) and its evolutionary implications. Can. J. Zool. no. 69:2311-2320.
  4. Hudon, J. (1999). Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
  5. BirdForum Member observations

[edit] Recommended Citation

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